The slice that
started it all
Before the word “Foodie” existed.
Way back in 1977, at the age of 15, Todd and a few friends began exploring the diverse food and cultural landscape of New York City. Why did four 15 year old kids from Cranford, NJ want to visit New York City on their own? Because they were bored… and Todd was hungry!
They scraped together $5.00 each, which was enough for a round-trip bus ticket with a little money left over for some cheap and delicious eats. In 1977, 50 cents bought you a perfect slice of NY style thin crust pizza. And that’s where their journey started.
EXITING TIMES SQUARE
When they arrived they were overwhelmed with people, noise, and the traffic of 42nd Street.
Now remember, the 42nd Street of 1977 wasn’t like it is today. In the eyes of a 15 year old, it was like hitting the jackpot. Suddenly, 4 kids from NJ were surrounded by prostitutes, pimps, XXX movies, peep shows, drug dealers, crazy people screaming, homeless people begging and filth. Todd and his travel companions were hooked on the high energy and unique sights.
A few weeks before their 2nd trip into the city, their teacher mentioned the film, ‘Next Stop Greenwich Village’. So this time, they walked down 5th Avenue all the way until they ran into a big white marble arch. They had arrived in the infamous Greenwich Village. They stumbled upon MacDougal Street, an ethnic food paradise. There were at least 25 tiny eateries specializing in street food from around the world. Each storefront was like a trip to a different country! This trip went well beyond pizza.
They went window shopping for meat.
Todd and his buddies walked up and down MacDougal Street searching for the most unique food they could find. The boys found themselves standing in front of Yatagan Kebab House. The place was right out of a Middle Eastern movie.
There was a giant piece of meat situated on an upright spit in the front window. There was a guy in the window cutting slices of meat and stuffing it into pita bread. They had never eaten anything like this. But wow – they were hooked.
A FOOD TOUR
As they got into their 20’s, the food journeys evolved.
If you were friends with Todd, chances are that you were among the lucky few who got to join him on these amazingly curated food crawls in Greenwich Village. Todd would pick out the perfect place for drinks, a secret spot for an affordable meal, then a hidden gem for live music. The night always ended at Rocco’s Pastry Shop for his favorite fresh filled cannoli. And on the off-chance you were still hungry, Todd would lead you to that perfect slice of pizza.
These city strolls were priceless! Eventually, friends would ask if they could bring a date on one of these outings, leave Todd home, but borrow his itinerary. He’d oblige, write it all down and he would call it, “a Food Tour!” Did you ever hear of such a thing?
AN AD. A TOUR.
This crazy idea of a “Food Tour’ floated in Todd’s head for a while.
One day, Todd decided to test the waters. He put a print ad (the internet was still in its early stages) in NEW YORK MAGAZINE. He advertised his new concept called ‘A Walking and Tasting Tour’ with a date and his phone number, although he had no tour officially set up. That ad sealed his fate.
Todd came home to an answering machine with a blinking light. 60 phone calls. Lots of messages. He called each and every person back. He told them this ‘Food Tour’ tour was sold out, but would keep their name and number for the next one. That first real tour was launched, with 20 of those original guests in attendance in the Spring of 1998. And on April 30, 1999 Todd quit his day job in Graphic Design to run Foods of NY Tours full time.
OUR GROWTH &
We like to keep things small, even in the Big Apple.
It’s been a long time since that first tour. But some things remain the same. Foods of NY Tours focuses on small, hidden (sometimes subterranean) shops and restaurants that are frequented by locals. And we like to keep the groups small too – no larger that 16 people to ensure that YOU have a personal experience.
We take our sweet time in developing new tours. We now offer six well-researched and well-curated Food Tasting Tours and we’re very proud of each. Try them all! There are now 14 tour guides, an office with full and part time staff, and a lot of very happy people that have taken our tours over the past 22 years. 340,000+ in fact!
WHO WE ARE TODAY
Our goal has always been to introduce locals and visitors to the ultimate, off-the-beaten-path food and cultural experiences. And that’s just what we do.
We are passionate about food and deeply dedicated to NYC and we are experts at making you feel at home in each neighborhood we explore. We are committed to keeping your belly satisfied and your brain full with fun facts and finds.
Let us take you on a three hour journey that introduces you to our favorite neighborhoods, foods, and venues, while opening up a whole new world that is waiting to be explored.